‘IF YOU live in Scotland​, you can vote in Scotland” will be the simple message at the heart of a change to the electoral franchise, The National understands.

The move would put 50,000 people who couldn’t vote in the last independence referendum on to the electoral roll in time for indyref2 – and would also make Scotland one of the most inclusive countries in the world when it comes to voting rights.

Ministers are set to publish the new Franchise Bill today.

It will seek to extend the right to vote to everyone permanently resident in Scotland, regardless of nationality or citizenship.

A Holyrood source said ministers see this as an important sign of the inclusive country and society they want Scotland to be, both now and in the future as an independent nation.

They explained: “This bill is aimed at ensuring everyone who lives in Scotland is able to vote in Scottish elections.

“It’s an important step forward in making sure all those who are resident here and call Scotland home have an equal say in how the country is run.

The source added: “There was overwhelming support for taking this step in the consultation that was held, and if it is passed it will also send a signal about the inclusive country Scotland can be, both now and in the future with independence.”

Currently, a person can vote in Scottish Parliament and local government elections if they are over 16 years old and are either a British citizen, from certain Commonwealth countries, the Irish Republic or the European Union.

That means someone from Canada or Spain can vote in Holyrood and local elections, but someone from Japan or the US can’t.

At the last independence referendum – according to an academic survey of 5000 people carried out shortly afterwards – 57.1% of those born outside the UK voted No.

Holyrood now has the ability to set the franchise after powers were devolved as part of the Scotland Act, though change requires a “super-majority” in the Scottish Parliament, and needs approval from two-thirds of MSPs. That could mean reform is only possible if supported by Labour or the Tories.

In late 2017, ministers launched a consultation on widening the franchise, arguing that “it seems only just that everyone legally resident in Scotland should have voting rights”.

They added: “There is a view that the current rules do not properly reflect contemporary circumstances and that linking citizenship with the right to vote is undemocratic. As citizens from a very wide range of countries come to live and work in Scotland, it can be considered discriminatory to deny the right to vote to resident immigrants who are neither EU nor Commonwealth citizens.

“It can be argued that that it is undemocratic to give voting rights to some legal immigrants but not to others. It seems only just that everyone legally resident in Scotland should have voting rights, allowing them to influence government and parliamentary decision-making.

“Anyone who has the right to reside in Scotland and who might be paying taxes, who may own or rent a home and access the education, health and other public services should be entitled to vote in Scotland’s elections.”

There was overwhelming support for some type of reform, with 79% of respondents keen to see the pool of those who can vote extended.

In their submission, the Electoral Reform Society said: “All those who choose to make their home in Scotland and thus contribute to our communities, regardless of their place of birth, should be allowed to vote in elections.”

The last great reform to Scotland’s franchise was in 2014 when MSPs gave the 16 and 17 year olds a vote in the referendum, adding an extra 120,000 people to the electoral roll. Some 62.5% of them voted Yes.